UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
We have supported the UN Global Compact principles of sustainability since 2015. We have mapped our strategy against the SDGs and will continue to integrate the goals that are most relevant to our business and processes.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the seventeen SDGs, which are an urgent call for action by all countries, developed and developing, in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. The UK is a signatory to these goals. The UK Government has developed its own agenda for delivering these goals and companies are encouraged to adopt this framework.
We believe the foundation of strong sustainability strategy is a clear understanding of the most material issues for our business, what matters to our stakeholders and where we can have the most positive impact.
In early 2021 we are embarking on a detailed review of our material issues which will consider the evolving expectations and concerns of our stakeholders.
Historically we have identified our key sustainability risks and opportunities as summarised below.
Environment: Our greatest potential environmental impact is from the operation and refurbishment of our portfolio of 600 buildings. Through the re-use and careful management of existing buildings we can avoid the material use and carbon emissions related to redevelopment. In addition, reducing the running costs of the buildings and improving their operational efficiencies is essential to attract tenants, as well as meeting future regulatory requirements.
Community: We are focused on activities that directly benefit young people and our local communities in Camden and Westminster. We utilise the expertise of local charities to support educational initiatives and vulnerable people in our local communities.
Stakeholders: engaging with our tenants, investors and principal advisors ensures that we are aware of their expectations and can respond accordingly. In particular, we work with tenants to identify ways in which they can use our buildings more efficiently and operate in a more sustainable manner. We work closely with our suppliers to enable us to control our potentially most significant impacts and facilitate better standards of service through our supply chain.
In 2016 we decided we wanted to formalise a materiality assessment for the business using the following stepped approach:
- External review – a review of external influence, views of investors, benchmarking indices, activities of our peers and other companies to provide the basis for identifying the issues that are material to the business now and in the future.
- Internal review – initial findings were reviewed by the Sustainability Committee and then through an internal workshop to establish the relative importance of the identified issues to our business, balanced with the perceived importance to stakeholders.
The result is a materiality matrix confirming our priority issues (see below). Out of 19 possible environmental and 19 possible social issues the top 10 issues were identified as: Community, central London air pollution, living wage, health & safety both internally and externally, infrastructure, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights, waste, material use and biodiversity. The Sustainability Committee reviewed these in 2019 and agreed they remain valid. An update of our materiality matrix will be published on completion of our 2021 materiality review and will form the foundation for our strategy going forward.
Sustainability management system
We have a bespoke environmental management system which is supplemented a clear approach to social and economic sustainability. Our management system includes the core elements of a policy, identification of risks and opportunities, measurable objectives and targets, an audit programme and reporting requirements. Our process ensures continual improvement of our policies and an annual re-assessment of targets.
Communications and coordination
Our Sustainability Committee, chaired by the Chief Executive, meets at least quarterly and is responsible for setting the sustainability strategy, managing sustainability related risks and disseminating policy across the Group. The Committee also includes the Head of Sustainability, Community Engagement Manager and senior managers from across the business including; property, facilities management, finance and marketing.
The Committee is advised by an external consultant, who provides independent review and analysis of our actions and policies. The Sustainability Committee reports to the Strategy and Operations Executive, Risk Committee and the Board. The lines of communication and reporting are illustrated below.
Managing the Supply Chain
As a property investor, our most significant impacts occur through our supply chain and in the operation of the buildings that we own. This includes the ongoing management of our portfolio and the refurbishment of individual buildings. Without responsible management, we could inadvertently contribute to significant environmental impacts, such as the unnecessary use of energy and materials, environmental or social damage relating to the extraction of raw materials or environmental incidents at one of our projects.
We employ agents to manage the portfolio and project managers to oversee the refurbishment activities, working to clear policies and targets set by the business. The company has established processes to integrate environment, social and governance factors into the procurement of new services and into the ongoing work of our long-term contractors and sub-contractors. This process is set out below.
Details of our sustainability requirements are contained within our Sustainability Policy and our Supplier Code of Conduct documents. These are included within contractual information throughout the supply chain.